Katherine Merisotis/The Bates Student
Bates students are getting the first and second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, following in step with the rest of the nation as it continues to move towards a post-pandemic world.
“To me, it didn’t really feel like a choice,” Olivia Dimond ‘22 said. “It seems like the only way forward other than just ‘wait it out,’ and there are things I haven’t done since last March — like eat at a restaurant — that I miss.”
Sebastien Kleitman ‘24 agreed that getting the vaccine is not “a legitimate choice.”
“The pandemic has been hard for everyone and continues to ravage countries throughout the world,” he said. “While we debate whether we should or should not get vaccinated, we must remember that other people do not have the luxury of that choice. Vaccines are the key to returning to a normal life.”
Out of the 101 participants in a survey conducted by The Student, all had received their first dose of the vaccine, or at least had an appointment set up.
Austin Dumont ‘21 chose to get the first and second doses of the vaccine, determined to protect others and do whatever was necessary to help the nation return to normal quickly.
“I chose to get the vaccine because the overwhelming scientific evidence is that they are highly effective in reducing Covid transmission,” he said. “While masks are helpful, they are not nearly as effective as the vaccine.”
The highest supplier of student COVID-19 vaccinations came from Walgreens, with 33% of participants from the survey listing it as the vaccination site they used. Following behind at 33% was the Auburn mall, 15% at a site in Maine but not in L/A, 11% outside of Maine, 2% at Walmart, and less than 1% at Central Maine Medical Center.
The majority of participants (80.2%) found the process of getting the vaccine to be easy, while 11.9% were neutral and another 7.9% thought it was difficult to receive the vaccine.
Of those who found it easy to get the vaccine, 38% got their vaccine at a Walgreens, 37% at the Auburn Mall, 2% at Walmart, 15% at a vaccination site outside of the Lewiston Auburn (L/A) area but in Maine, and another 8% outside of Maine.
37.5% of those who found it difficult, got their vaccine at the Auburn Mall. Another 25% of participants who selected that the process was “hard” received their vaccine from Walgreens, 12.5% got their vaccine in Maine outside of Lewiston/Auburn, and 25% got the vaccine outside of Maine entirely.
The majority of students received the Pfizer vaccine — exactly 83% as indicated by the survey. 15% of student survey participants received the Moderna vaccine, and 3% got the Johnson & Johnson shot.
A total of 21% of students specified they had no symptoms; however, it was unclear as to whether these participants were referring to their first or second dose of the vaccine. 90.5% of the students who experienced no symptoms had the Pfizer vaccine, and 9.5% had the Moderna vaccine. None of these students received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
19% of participants who experienced symptoms had little to no symptoms after the first dose and a greater reaction to the second dose.
Kleitman received his second shot last Saturday and reported a greater reaction to this dose.
“After, I had minor physical pain in my arm, a slight fever during the night, and little remaining fatigue the next day,” he said. “These were more side effects than for the first shot, but they were over in a day and a half.”
There were 42.5% of participants who expressed soreness on and around the injection site, the most prevalent symptom according to the survey. Other students listed headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and fever symptoms.
“In clinical trials, the vaccines have been highly effective in reducing Covid transmission, as well as the severity of symptoms among those who have still gotten Covid,” Dumont said. “While I understand the concern about potential side effects, would you rather be sick for what most likely will be twenty-four hours or be at greater risk for getting Covid and more severe symptoms for a prolonged period of time?”
For Dumont, the most exciting part of getting the vaccine was feeling as if he were contributing to a larger cause.
“I was doing my part to help all of us return to a sense of normalcy. By being able to be vaccinated and protected, I am better able to protect others,” he said.
Isabella Sobolewski ‘23 expressed a similar sentiment.
“When the needle entered my arm, I felt a rush of emotions from the past year,” Sobolewski said. “As a world, we have been through so much turmoil, and getting the vaccine made me realize that hope for the future is so close.”
According to Mary Pols, Bates’ media relations specialist, Bates is currently only encouraging, not requiring, students to get vaccinated. “We have tracked requests from students for Bobcat Express rides to get vaccinated, which do include the Central Maine Medical Center’s vaccination clinic at the Auburn Mall but also other nearby sites, such as local drug stores,” Pols told The Student.
The Bobcat Express as of Sunday, May 9 reported 389 ride requests to vaccine sites. This indicates that there are many more students than the survey suggests who have been vaccinated.
However, Pols explained that the number of ride requests cannot be directly correlated to the number of students vaccinated, because as indicated by the survey, many students received their vaccine at sites other than the ones recommended by the college. Students may have also used transportation other than the Bobcat Express.
In an email on May 11, Josh McIntosh reported that the college’s expectations regarding COVID-19 vaccinations have changed.
“To help protect our campus and community against the virus, Bates will require that all students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before coming to campus this fall for the academic year 2021-2022,” he said.
Editor’s Note: The above percentages of students who specified no symptoms after vaccination does not directly suggest that there is correlation between the type of vaccine and experienced symptoms. This data is consistent with the higher percentages of participants who received the Pfizer vaccine in general.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccination sites in the Lewiston/Auburn area visit the interactive map created by The Student. To find more information on the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine visit the CDC site here.